Ben Spies proved just why he will take Valentino Rossi's vacant factory Yamaha ride next season, as he led a MotoGP race for the first time on his way to a best ever second place in his home Indianapolis Grand Prix.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider was beaten only by Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa and finished ahead of both factory M1 riders - Rossi and 2010 title leader Jorge Lorenzo - for the first time.

Rookie Spies, starting from his debut pole position, led the early part of the race, then comfortably held off Lorenzo after Pedrosa took the lead on lap seven of 28.

"It was my first time leading a GP race. I think I led for about 10 feet at Brno. But here I actually led for a few laps," said Spies. "Again, the pace wasn't fast enough to lead for half the race or anything like that, but I don't think I made too many mistakes when I was out front.

"We were consistent, just wasn't fast enough, but were comfortable, so that was key.

"When Dani came by, you know, his bike was quite quick on the straightaway - but he was riding really well and not making any mistakes and getting off the corner really well.

"We couldn't follow him but I just tried to let him pull me away from third and then manage as much as I could. So I think once he got out to his gap, he could manage it, too. And I congratulate him, he rode a great race.

"We can't complain. We got the pole yesterday and had a good start today and led some laps. I saw a lot of crash marks out there and I knew some people were hitting the ground, and it was quite easy to make a mistake. But in the end we had to ride 100 percent the whole time with only a three-second gap.

"So I'm happy for all the friends and family and fans that are here to get a second in an American Grand Prix for my first season. It hasn't soaked in yet, but I'll try to go and enjoy it a little bit and hop on a plane and do it again next weekend."

Like most of the field, Spies used the softer rear tyre - only Pedrosa and team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, plus Ducati's Casey Stoner and Spies' team-mate Colin Edwards started with the harder option. It proved the right choice - Edwards had to make a pit stop to change to the softer option.

"We kind of went for glory, you know. I couldn't be quick enough on the hard tyre," said Spies. "The soft tyre we knew was going to go down at the end but we were hoping to be in a position where we could manage that.

"Fortunately we got a good start. I was able to go good early on and then just manage it at the end of the race and it proved to be a good choice. I was on the fence about it, I believed in a couple other people and we went with it."

The Texan's second podium of his rookie season also means he is now up to sixth in the world championship - ahead of fellow American Nicky Hayden.

"For me, you know, Nick is just another rider. He's a great rider; he's a world champ. To be doing what we're doing - not looking at the top American, or top satellite bike - in the first year, I didn't think it would be going this well," said the reigning World Superbike champion.

"So two podiums, you know... If you had told me we would have had one at the end of the first season, I would have been happy with that and took my money."

Spies is only four points behind Rossi in the championship and - since the Italian's return from a broken leg - Spies has scored just two points less than the nine time world champion.

"That was a fantastic weekend from Ben and he delivered an unbelievable performance for the American fans," said team manager Herve Poncharal. "We could not have hoped for more and he showed why we are so sad to see him leaving us to join Yamaha's factory team next season. But I'm happy for him though because clearly with the factory team he will be with the top four.

"His pole position yesterday was incredible when you consider how tough it is to achieve that against such a high level of competition. He got an incredible start and he was very strong at the beginning of the race. Only Dani could match him and pass him, but Ben rode immaculately and it never looked like Jorge was going to catch him."

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment